Indians, Cy Young winner Kluber agree to one-year deal
With Wednesday being the deadline for pre-arbitration players to sign, the Indians announced that Corey Kluber has signed his contract for the upcoming season. Had Kluber not signed, the team could have renewed it at a salary they determined.
Kluber is arbitration-eligible starting next year but remains under team control through 2018.
"Whether he signs a 20-year or one-day contract I don’t think he is going to do anything different," manager Terry Francona told reporters on Wednesday.
Kluber will pitch in a simulated game on Thursday, which will be his second one of spring training. His only Cactus League appearance was last Saturday against the Dodgers as he worked three innings and allowed a run on three hits with a strikeout.
"We’re just trying to monitor the intensity and along with him try to communicate with and do what is best for the upcoming season," Francona said. "With a sim game you do not have to worry about the scoreboard or people in that stands. When there’s not people around, I think it is helpful, especially those that are going to carry a lot of innings."
Kluber was 18-9 last season with 269 strikeouts and a 2.44 earned run average. He joined Bob Feller (1946) and Luis Tiant (1968) as the only pitchers in team history to post 18 wins, a sub-2.50 ERA and least 260 strikeouts. He finished tied for first in the American League in wins and starts (34), second in strikeouts and third in ERA and innings pitched (235 2/3).
There remains a possibility that the Indians could still reach an extension with Kluber before the regular season begins next month. Last year Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes signed one-year deals in March before agreeing to six-year extensions the opening week of the season. Kipnis has a club option for 2020 and Gomes has club options for 2020-21.
As we wrote back in November, a possible model to explore when discussing a Kluber extension is the five-year, $32.5-million extension that Chris Sale signed with the White Sox in 2013. That deal also carried club options for 2018 and ’19.
The contract bought all three years where he was slated to be arbitration eligible, as well as his first year of free agency with club options the following two years. Since Kluber turns 29 on April 10, which is the Tribe’s home opener, they could also explore a four-year contract with club options for 2019-20.
Or, the Indians could elect to wait until the offseason after seeing how Kluber does this season.
With Kluber’s signing, all 23 pre-arbitration eligible players on the 40-man roster are under contract.